There was a Fanning family living in Sunbury, Victoria which is relatively near Bulla. One of their descendants believes we are related. I had a look and this family originates from Co Wicklow in Ireland so I don’t think we would be related.
Michael Fanning who married Mary Hogan, in 1872 in Victoria, came from Co Wicklow. In 1876 Elizabeth Mary was born to Michael and Mary Fanning. In 1907 she married Thomas Richard Wickham. Other children to Michael and Mary Fanning were John Jackson 1877, Michael Joseph born 1879, Kate (Catherine Teresa)1881, Lilian Francis 1873, Mary Josine and Ann (Margaret Ann)1883.
In the Sunbury News 1892, a Michael Fanning is listed as a publican for the Railway Hotel in Sunbury. He died age 85, in Sunbury, in 1927.
Mary Fanning nee Hogan died in Sunbury age 74 in 1917. Her father was John Hogan and her mother Eliza Brophy. She lived at Powlett St in Sunbury for 63 years, where her parents had lived before her.
In researching my branch of the Fannings from Thurles I came across four other Fanning families that I thought might be related.
It was often thought that the Fannings who lived, and still live, in Charlton, in country Victoria, were related to us. People often asked if we were related to them and pointed out a strong physical likeness to my father. They even said he walked in the same way as the Fanning Charltons. My father went over to Charlton to visit them there but apparently they knew of no connection.
I looked into their family history and found three sites where the Charlton Fanning family history has been explored:
Kevin Shepherd starts with George Fanning who was born c 1864 in Dublin and married Margaret Masterson in Charlton in 1899. (I can’t find Kevin’s tree online anymore.)
I found out that this Fanning family came from Dublin. Three brothers, Michael, George and Joseph and a sister, Margaret came out to Australia sometime after 1864. Their father was James Fanning, a farmer and their mother Kate(Kathleen) Stammers.
Michael born c1850 died in Bendigo in 1931 aged 81.
Joseph died a very wealthy man in 1922 in Charlton. He was born in Dublin c1856.
Margaret was born c1860 and died in 1925 in Charlton.
George born c1864 in Dublin died 1943 in Charlton.
If anyone knows when the four emigrant Charlton Fannings came out to Australia I would be interested to know or if anyone has any more research on this family back in Ireland please contact me. I also have more on this family than what I’ve written here.
Catherine Fanning daughter of William Fanning and Catherine Hayes was born in 1846 at Bulla in Victoria Australia. She married John Ryan and settled in Kilmore Victoria. She died there in 1899 and she and her family are buried in Kilmore Cemetery.
Catherine was the second daughter of William and Catherine Fanning and was born at Bulla, Victoria in 1846. Below is the record of her baptism in 1847 at Mount Macedon.
She married John Ryan, a farmer, on 21 May 1867 at Bulla. They lived in Kilmore at Moranding in Victoria.
Her husband, John Ryan, was born about 1838 in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. His father was Patrick Ryan and his mother was Margaret Hogan. He came out about 1856 aged about 18.
Signature of John Ryan
He died a tragic death on Dec 11 1876, drowning himself in the river at Moranding. He was 38 years old and left six children under the age of nine at the time of his death. They had been married eight years.
Their children were all born at Kilmore and were Patrick Ambrose, William John, John William, Edward Francis, Catherine, Michael and Thomas.
Catherine died at Kilmore on 15 March 1899.
John Ryan’s Will and Probate and that of Catherine Ryan are online at PROV (Public Records Office Victoria).
Below are obituaries for some of Catherine and John Ryan’s children:
Only one of the children of Catherine Fanning and John Ryan married.
Edward Francis Ryan married Catherine Anastasia Nicholls and they had two children, Mary Anastasia and Frances Eileen. Mary married Ralph Edward Beveridge in Victoria in 1934. I have not found any children for this couple or any marriage or death records for Francis Eileen Ryan.
Johannah Fanning the daughter of William Fanning and Catherine Hayes was born in Bulla, Victoria Australia in 1848. She married William Frederick Dell in 1884 and had two children who died as infants. She and her husband worked in hotels all their lives. She died in 1923 and is buried with her husband in the Melbourne General Cemetery in Carlton Victoria Australia.
This picture was taken outside “Sunnyside” c 1868. She would have been about twenty years old.
Johanna Louisa Fanning was born in 1848 at Bulla in Victoria.
She married William Frederick Dell on the 17th Nov, 1884. She was 36, although the marriage certificate says 27, and he was also 27.
They were married in St Francis’ Catholic Church, Melbourne.
On her marriage record Johanna signed her name using the more English “Joanna”.
William Dell was born in Berkshire, England about 1857. His being English did not please Johanna’s Irish father and it is said that Johanna was cut out of the will because she chose to marry an Englishman. She was the only child not to receive property from her parents.
On her marriage certificate her occupation is given as “Hotel Keeper” and address as Bulla. I wonder what hotel she was working at or managing.
Family stories have them owning a pub in Richmond. In 1888 on her daughter’s death certificate she is again listed as a hotel keeper.
From the years 1909 to her death in 1923, she lived at 145 Surrey Rd, South Yarra, Melbourne and her occupation was described as “Home Duties”.
Her sister, Mary Skehan of Monegetta, left Johanna 50 pounds in her will in 1900.
Joanna was 74 when she died.
She had a very sad life, in that her only two children died as infants.
William Frederick Dell died after only two weeks on 28 Dec, 1887. His parents’ address at this time was the Norfolk Hotel in Flinders Lane, Melbourne.
Joanna Louise Dell was born at South Yarra, but died after five months, at Bulla, on 3 Dec 1888.
William Dell died in Richmond in 1939 aged 81.
On the census forms he is listed as a Gentleman in 1884, a Hotel Keeper in 1888 and from 1909 to 1924 as a Cook.
In 1936 he was living at 7 Claremont St, Sth Yarra, Melbourne.
Joanna and William Frederick Dell are buried with their two children, in the Melbourne General Cemetery, in the Catholic section, but not in the Fanning plot.
Mary Elizabeth Fanning was the eldest daughter of William Fanning and Catherine Hayes of Bulla Victoria Australia. She was born in 1845 and married Jeremiah Skehan and lived at Romsey in Victoria all her life. He worked as a farmer and they also owned and ran The Junction Hotel in Monegeetta where they lived. She died in 1900 and is buried in Lancefield Cemetery.
Mary Elizabeth Fanning was born at Werribee in Victoria in 1845. Her parents, William and Catherine Fanning, had come out from Thurles, Co. Tipperary Ireland in 1841. They lived and worked at Werribee for the first few years before moving to Bulla.
In 1862 Mary Fanning aged 18 was a witness at an inquest into the death of an infant girl in Emu Creek. Johanna Doyle who lived and worked on the Fanning property was suspected of the child’s death.
Mary Fanning’s Signature at the 1862 inquest.
Mary Fanning married Jeremiah Skehan in 1865, at her family’s home at Deep Creek, Bulla, Victoria.
Recently I contacted a DNA match who has Skehan ancestors from Dualla in Co Tipperary. How we are a match is a still a mystery.
I started looking for the birth of Jeremiah and discovered he was baptised on 18 Nov 1833 in Boherlahan Parish in South Tipperary. His parents’ address given as Kill Hill or Killhill. I also came across the Baptism record of his brother William Skehan, 10 Mar 1835, in the same location. So far I have not been able to find any more children of John and Mary Skehan nee O’Keeffe.
Skehan is sometimes spelled as Skeahan, Skehane and Skehin and no doubt there are other variations.
I decided to look for the marriage of John Skehan and Mary O’Keeffe. They were married in the Catholic Church on 18 Nov 1833 after a three month scandal!
“John Skeahan of Dualla and Mary Keeffe of Featherd having eloped, from great? scandal for three months and their first married in Church by the Rev W Bagnall Church of Magorban, then again married by the Rev William Kirwain in presence of John Keeffe, Thomas? Ryan and Alicia? Commons?”
They had been originally married in the Protestant Church of Magorban. I am assuming that Mary O’Keefe was a Protestant.
Jeremiah’s family came from Co Tipperary, as did the Fanning family. He came out to Australia when he was about 21 years old, around 1859. His father John, was also a farmer from Dualla Co Tipperary. His mother was Mary O’Keefe from Fethard in the same county. The Skehan family lived at Kill Hill Kilballyherberry in Co Tipperary. There is now a wind farm at Kill Hill.
In Australia Jeremiah and Mary lived at Monegeeta, in Romsey, Victoria, where they were the licensees of The Junction Hotel. The hotel was at Lancefield Junction, on the corner of Gisbourne and Lancefield Rds, at the Railway Station. It was next to Mintaro Homestead, the smaller replica of Melbourne’s Government House built in 1882. Mary and Jeremiah also farmed as well as ran the pub.The hotel was on their land. Below is a map of the area from 1880-1890:
Victoria. Dept. of Crown Lands and Survey. Parish of Kerrie 1880 – 1890.
This land was originally owned by Mary’s father William Patrick Fanning (listed as W.Fannan) and gazetted in 1858:
Jeremiah and Mary had thirteen children between 1866 and 1883: John, William, Mary, Thomas, Jeremiah, Catherine, Jeremiah, Jeremiah Patrick, Margaret, Edward, James, Sally and Michael.
Jeremiah died at Monegeeta in Sept of 1896, age 58, of a heart condition, and is buried in the Lancefield Cemetery. Mary died at Romsey in 1923 at the age of seventy eight.
The Junction Hotel was in the Skehan family for over 50 years. It burned down in April 1975. It had passed out of the Skehan family when it was put up for sale in 1909.
Jeremiah’s son, also named Jeremiah, was a blacksmith. I think the photo below of Jerry Skehan is him although it could also be of his son Gerald Skehan who was also a blacksmith. The young boy is Bruce Laing. If anyone knows which Skehan this is please let me know. I don’t know when it was taken.
The following pages about the Skehan family are taken from:
“Celebration of the Catholic parish of Lancefield and Romsey centenary 1906-2006 [John Lynch]”
Francis Collins Fanning was the son of Edward Fanning and Sarah Collins. He was born in Bulla Victoria in1892 and became a builder. he lived in Essendon Melbourne. He married Ida Mackey in 1915 and they had four children. In 1932 he died aged 40.
Frank Fanning on the left and Pat Kelleher in the middle at Kilmore
My grandfather Frank Fanning is in the center. I don’t know when this was taken but he is obviously in his work clothes.
He was a talented builder. He is said to have built the original St Theresa’s Primary School and quite a few of the local picture theaters around Essendon.
His son Jack, also a builder, built the Presbytery at St Theresa’s. One thing I remember my father telling me about him was that he played the violin I also have been told he liked to bet on the horses.
One story I heard was that one time he won a thousand pounds on the horses and wanted to buy his daughter Eileen a piano with it, but Ida my grandmother was opposed to spending the money in this way and wanted to buy property. Frank prevailed and Eileen got a piano.Given how strong willed my grandmother was, this was no mean feat!
Francis Collins Fanning, “Frank” Fanning, my grandfather was a builder in the Essendon area. This advertisement was in the local Church paper and may have been around 1923.
The wedding was at St Monica’s Catholic Church in Essendon, Melbourne, on Sept 25, 1915.
Ida Fanning was an avid card player and president of the card committee at St Columba’s College in Essendon, where she organized the card afternoons until the early 1960’s. She also held card afternoons at her flat “Collida” in Stanley St Essendon. The name being a combination of her first name Ida and Collins, my grandfather’s second name. On her flat at Stanley St Essendon there was a brass plate with Collida on it. She taught me to play euchre in her front room. She loved the British monarchy and had numerous royal memorabilia.
Frank died at the age of forty after a three year illness.
Ida Fanning died age 84 and they are both buried in Fawkner Cemetery Melbourne.
William Patrick Fanning was born in Thurles Co Tipperary Ireland in 1812 and died in Bulla Victoria Australia in 1876. He married Catherine Hayes in Cork before they emigrated on the “Enmore” in 1841. He lived at Bulla and was a farmer. He had five children. His descendants still live at “Sunnyside” in Bulla.
I am not sure when this photo was taken, outside “Sunnyside” Bulla, but I suspect it may have been when “Big Bill” was sick, as he is sitting down. He died of cancer of the jaw in 1876. In 1863 a tender was advertised by the architect Mr J F Mathews in The Argus for construction of the verandah so it is after this time.
William Patrick Fanning, known as “Big Bill” because he was a very tall man, was born in Thurles, Co Tipperary, Ireland in 1812. His parents were Edmond Fanning and Johanna (Judith) Darmody.
He was the third son of a family of 10 children. The Fannings were quite numerous and well known in Northern Tipperary and many were farmers while some went into business, quite a few were publicans, spirit sellers and shopkeepers. This pattern continued in Victoria with two of his daughters, Mary and Johanna, being hotelkeepers. By Irish standards they were well off and this is reflected in Big Bill’s business initiative and land acquisitions here in Victoria.
His surname is inconsistent being spelt as Fannin in 1841, Fanning in 1862, Fannan in 1869 (in an advertisement in the Argus, for a neighbour’s property, he is referred to as Mr Fannan). In 1862 he signed as Fannan but his two children, Mary and John, signed their surname as Fanning. This may be to do with the fact that he could not write and would have been using phonetic spelling. In those days people may not have been as particular about how they spelt their names.
Unfortunately, not much is known about Catherine Hayes. From her death certificate we can establish that she was born c1818 in Co Tipperary Ireland and that her father was a farmer. I remember being told that she smoked a pipe when she lived in Victoria.
She married William Patrick Fanning in 1841 in Cork presumably just before they sailed on the “Enmore” on the 22nd of June. They left from Cobh, in Co Cork on june 22 1841 and arrived three months later at Port Phillip Victoria on Oct 4 1841. Catherine is listed as Mary Fannin, age 24, farm servant, who can neither read or write. Both were Roman Catholics and came as assisted passengers, their fares being 19 pounds each.
Below is the “Enmore” passenger list page where Catherine and William Fanning are listed as William and Mary Fannin. The full passenger list for the Enmore and more on immigration at this time are in the post Australia The “Enmore” Cork Ireland to Port Phillip Victoria 1841. Descriptions of Melbourne as William and Catherine would have found it in 1841 are in the post Life in Melbourne Victoria 1841-1852.
The post “Ireland in 1841” gives the political and social background in Ireland and the preceding years and makes it easier to understand why they decided to leave their home and families and come to Australia.
I have wondered why they chose to come all the way to Australia and not go to America or Canada. I have read that immigration to Australia became more attractive as it was aid provided through the bounty system. Fares were paid.
The colonial bounty system came into being in 1837 but was revised in 1840. It granted money to people bringing into NSW from the UK (including Ireland) agricultural laborers, shepherds, tradesman, female domestics and farm servants. There was plenty of work as there was a shortages in these areas.
Kikenny, Tipperary, East Limerick, East Clare and North Cork accounted for over half of all Irish assisted emigrants to Australia. It also seems that life was better for immigrants in NSW and that they did not end up in urban ghettoes like so many did in America.
One of Big Bills relations, Martin Eviston had been transported to NSW in 1830 for manslaughter. He came back to Ireland sometime after 1839 and married Johanna Fanning Big Bill’s cousin. While he came back all his children ended up emigrating as well as quite a few of their cousins (children of Thomas Eviston and Mary Fanning) and settling in Australia. The Evistons lived at Clonomocogue close to the Fanning families and Big Bill would no doubt have talked to Martin Eviston. While Martin Evaston came back to Ireland he must have painted a very positive picture of life and opportunities in the colonies for most of his children and their cousins to have emigrated.
When Catherine and William first arrived they spent some time working at the wharves before they moved to Wyndham in Werribee.
They had five children: John Henry, Mary Elizabeth, Catherine, Johanna Louisa and Edward Francis. The two eldest John and Mary were born in Werribee in 1842 and 1844 while the others were born at Bulla.
In 1844 William Fanning purchased 150 acres of land in what was called “Tullarmarine Island” the area south of the Sunbury Road enclosed by Jackson’s Creek and Deep Creek on Loemans Road near Bulla Bulla where he raised his family. It would have been purchased from the Colony of NSW as Victoria did not exist as a separate colony until 1853.
“The current project study area is located on land that was theTullamarine pastoral run (Spreadborough and Anderson, Settled District map). Some of the early landholders of pastoral runs located between Jacksons Creek and Deep Creek included W.J.T. Clark, W. Fanning and M. Loeman (Symonds 1985, 213). In 1844 William Fanning purchased 150 acres of land on what was known as “Tullamarine Island”, which is the area south of Sunbury Road, enclosed by Jacksons Creek and Deep Creek on Loemans Road (Symonds 1985, 41). Here he set up his farm, which his wife looked after while Fanning undertook contract carting to the goldfields during the 1850s. The Fanning’s built their Sunnyside homestead during the 1850s at the village of Bulla Bulla (Symonds 1985, 41-42). Bulla Bulla was surveyed in 1847, and by 1853, Bulla Bulla consisted of 12 wooden houses, the Deep Creek Inn and Tulip Wright’s hotel, with the first post office opening within this hotel in 1850, then moving to another building (Symonds 1985, 49). During the 1850s, traffic to and from the goldfields passed through the Bulla region, causing some problems with the steep sloping roads. During this time several businesses commenced at Bulla Bulla, including a kaolin clay works used to manufacture porcelain, as well as a large flour mill and brickworks (Symonds 1985, 50). In 1854, Bulla Bulla became known as Bulla. By 1870, the population of Bulla was approximately 200 people, with 2630 in the Bulla district, and 263 dwellings in an area of 73,500 acres (Symonds 1985, 51). By the 1880s, Bulla contained four hotels, a hunt club, several churches and a grocery store and wine saloon. In the 1860s, the State Government introduced the New Industry Act that gave special assistance to enterprising people to develop virgin land (Symonds 1985, 117). Early settlers to the Bulla area, such as W. J.T Clark took advantage of this assistance and started to grow grapes.” From theOuter Metropolitan Link to Melbourne Airport and Bulla BypassAssessment Report 8/8/2011
According to “Victoria and Riverina 1931-32” Aboriginal people were numerous at this time but “owing to his tactful handling the family never had the slightest trouble with them.”
On the discovery of gold at Sandhurst (Bendigo) in 1851 Bill started contract carting to the goldfields. It is thought they would have used bullock teams as the tracks were extremely rough. Broken axles were common. The first day took them to Monegeeta. While William “Big Bill” took supplies across to the gold fields in the 1850’s, Catherine looked after the 100 acre dairy farm. It took three months to do the round trip by waggon. Bill did five trips a year at 100 pounds a ton. The first day got them to Monegeeta.
After the village of Bulla Bulla was surveyed in 1847, he was the first to purchase land in Quartz Street just behind Tulip Wright’s Deep Creek Inn.
On 16 August, 1852, lot 119a at Bulla Bulla was gazetted to William Fannan.
This is where he had “Sunnyside” built. The original homestead on Loemans Rd was a slab hut built under the shade of a large gum tree some 60 meters from the present home, and this was followed by a separate kitchen, later used as a storeroom. “Sunnyside” a single storey bluestone slate roofed farmhouse with outbuildings was built in 1859 using only local stone and gum trees, with the chimney built of hand made bricks. The outbuildings include a simple bluestone kitchen, bluestone woolshed (originally used as stable and coach house), a piggery and a shed with roughly split timber side walls and weatherboard gables. The piggery dates from 1853, the cow shed from 1855 and the shearing shed from 1860. Originally Loemans Rd used to run directly in front of the “Sunnyside” picket fence but this was later resurveyed to the present line. ” The house was registered as a historic building in 1992. It has stayed in the Fanning family.
Photos of “Sunnyside ” Bulla Victoria Australia
On the 7th of July 1855 William purchased 342 acres along Wildwood Rd, called “Emu Flat”. This was left to his son John Henry. He also owned land at Kilmore and in Melbourne where the present day Windsor Hotel is situated in Spring St.
Some time after he and Catherine emigrated a group of 17 relatives came out to Victoria. We are not sure of their names or the dates or their exact relationship to Big Bill. I have been told it was about ten years after Bill came out. He apparently wasn’t all that happy to have them staying at Bulla and let them stay in the cattle sheds before letting them stay on his land at Spring St for three months. Some are then said to have gone up to Queensland and some to NSW. All attempts to discover who they were and what happened to them have been unsuccessful.
The Argus of August 2, 1856 published a list of names of those petitioning W.J.T.Clarke esq., to nominate to run to become a member of the Legislative Council. W. Fanning is listed on this as are other Bulla residents including Martin Batey, David Patullo and Richard Brodie. Clarke also called “Big Bill” owned huge amounts of land in the Sunbury area and was elected to the Legislative Council in 1856. His son built the mansion “Rupertswood” in Sunbury.
In 1858 William Fannan had land in the Parish of Kerrie gazetted. It was 107 acres 2 rods and 38 perches in size. This land was at Monegeetta and was either given to his daughter Mary or sold to her and her husband Jeremiah Skehan.
William Patrick Fanning is listed as William Fannin, farmer, in this 1856 Census for West Bourke in the colony of Victoria. He has a farm on 100 acres freehold at Bulla.
In 1862 the body of an infant girl was found in a sack in Emu Creek. William found the sack which was close to the living quarters of a Johanna Doyle. She was arrested but later acquited. At the inquest William, his wife Catherine and son John and daughter Catherine were all questioned. William signed his name as Fannan.
When William arrivd in 1841 he could read but not write according to the passenger log. His signature may well have been the only thing he could write. Being a farmer he would have had little time to learn to write. His son and daughter both signed as Fanning in 1862 at the same inquest. Fannan is the phonetic way of spelling Fanning.
In 1871 the following farmers, mainly from the area across Jacksons Creek towards Bulla and Sunbury, successfully objected to a proposed land sale: Martin Batey, Dugald Stewart, John Skuse, John Dickens, William Fanning, Martin Dillon, Patrick Leyden, Alexander Guthrie, William Prendergast, Isaac Batey, ? Batey, John Daly, Peter Murphy, John Murphy, Michael Bourke, Thomas Condon, John Scully, Charles Bradley(?), Anne Gregor (“Dairy Woman”), Thomas Emerson, (“Dairy Man”), George Randall, Thomas Faithful, Harriet Sharpe, John Heaghney, and Michael O’Brien. (Hume City Council site)
William Patrick Fanning died in 1876, age 65, after a long and painful illness, cancer of the jaw.
William Patrick Fanning, “Big Bill”, is buried in the Catholic section of the Melbourne General Cemetery in Carlton, with his wife, Catherine, daughter-in-law, Bridget Fanning nee Collins, and his grandson, Thomas. In the Argus he was described as a much respected old colonist of 35 years whose passing was much regretted.
Catherine died on the 20th May 1895 aged 77 and is buried in the Melbourne Cemetery.
Below are detailed genealogy reports on the ancestors and descendants of William Patrick Fanning 1812-1876.
John Hugh Fanning was the son of Edward Fanning and Sarah Collins and was born in 1893 and died in 1975. He was a farmer and married Hannah Kelleher. They are both buried in Kilmore Cemetery Victoria Australia.
John Hugh Fanning, called Jack, was the son of Edward Fanning of Bulla and Sarah Collins of Northcote. Sarah died young of consumption at the age 27 in 1897. Jack would have been four years old when his mother died.
Jack worked as a farmer and lived just outside of Kilmore at Willomavin in country Victoria. I can remember my father telling me that Uncle Jack, his uncle, never wanted to be a farmer and work on the land but that his father Edward made him.
He married Hannah “Nance” Kelleher on Oct 21 1925. His brother Frank was best man and Nance’s brother Pat was groomsman. Her cousin Alma Kelleher and her friend Aileen Hesford were bridesmaids. Aileen was later to marry Pat, Nance’s brother. Nance and Jack Fanning did not have any children.
Nance was an keen golfer and also very involved in the CWA and other community groups and activities.
Nance and Jack Fanning are buried in the Kilmore Cemetery Victoria.
Nance Kelleher was the daughter of Denis Kelleher and Catherine Connors and was born in 1902 at Avondale, Kilmore. Her ancestors came out to Australia from Co Kerry in Ireland. Her grandmother Bridget Mannix came out in 1866 with five of her children. Her husband Patrick had arrived before her in 1864. In Co Kerry their name was written as Kelliher.
William Patrick Fanning was the eldest son of Edward Fanning and Bridget Collins. He was educated at Xavier College in Melbourne and took over “Sunnyside” and farmed there. He was born in 1885 and died in 1935. He married Mary Josephine “Daisy” Dillon and they had three children. William and Daisy Fanning are buried in Bulla Cemetery.
William Patrick Fanning was the oldest son of Edward Fanning and Bridget Fanning nee Collins. He was born 16 July 1885 at Bulla and died on 12 April 1935 in Fitzroy Melbourne. He was educated at Xavier College in Melbourne and matriculated in . He inherited “Sunnyside” and was a farmer.
He married Mary Josephine Dillon from Willow Bank Bulla.
This is what was written about William Patrick “Bill” Fanning in “Victoria and Riverina 1931-32” :
In 1862 the body of an infant was discovered in Emu Creek. An inquest was held and it was thought but not proven that the mother was Johanna Doyle who lived on the Fanning property at Bulla. Catherine Doyle Fanning born 1865 in Bulla may have been the child of William Patrick Fanning. The mother being Johanna Doyle.
In 1862 there was an inquest into the discovery by William Patrick Fanning of the body of an infant girl in Emu Creek. It was thought to be the child of Johanna Doyle, a woman who lived and worked on the Fanning property at Bulla in Victoria.
William and his wife and two eldest children, John Henry and Catherine, were questioned at the inquest. There was not enough evidence to decide how the child died and whose child she was. William Fanning would have been 50, Catherine 44, John Henry 20 and Mary 17 at the time.
The Argus Melbourne Victoria Saturday 11 Oct 1862 reported on the inquest:
MYSTERIOUS AFFAIRDISCOVERY OF THE BODY OF A CHILD
On Thursday, the district coroner commenced an inquiry into the cause of death of an infant child, whose body was found on Sunday last in the Emeu Creek. It appeared that the child was placed in the water, dead or living, very shortly after its birth; and from the circumstances that the body was tied in a bag, in which some stones were put, no doubt can be entertained that the person who threw it into the creek had intended to conceal the fact of its existence. Some suspicion attached to a woman who had been living as servant at an out-farm belonging to Mr Fanning, a farmer, at Bulla.
The following evidence was taken on Thursday:-
William Fanning stated that on Sunday afternoon he was on his farm, and walking near the Emeu Creek, when he saw a bag in the water. Got it out, and thought from the bad smell, it contained human remains. Did not open it, sent information to the sergeant of police, who came and took it, opening it in the witness’s presence. The place where the body was found was about two miles from witness’s residence. Knew Johanna Doyle, a servant in witness’s employment up to about two months back. Sent her away because he did not want her any longer. She was not living at witness’s own farm-house. There was no woman then living at the out-farm, where she was.
Mr James McIntyre, surgeon, made a post-mortem examination of deceased female infant, now shown to the jury. Found the body in a bag. It was the body of a full-grown female child. There were no external marks of violence that witness could discover. The umbilical cord was absent, and there was no after-birth in the bag. Believed the lungs had been fully inflated. Found air in them, and did not think the air was the result of decomposition. The brain was absent, the scalp gone, and the parietal bones were open. Witness thought the child had been dead a month to six weeks. Could not say what the stomach contained, it was too much decomposed.
At this stage of the case, the coroner adjourned until the next day, when the following additional evidence was given:-
Sergeant Nolan, stationed at Sunbury, stated that on the evening of the 6th inst. he received information that a sack, supposed to contain the remains of a child, had been found by Mr Fanning, a farmer, at Bulla. Went to the place, and Mr Fanning gave witness possession of the bag, containing the child shown to the jury. Opened the bag in his presence, and found a child wrapped up in a small piece of cotton and dress lining. The body was in an advanced state of decomposition. There were two stones in the sack. In consequence of information received, arrested Johanna Doyle, now present, and brought her from Lancefield. Examined her dresses, but could not find anything to correspond with the material the child was wrapped in.
William Fanning on being re-examined, stated that the woman now present, Johanna Doyle, was in witness’s employ about two years and a half. She lived the whole time at an out-farm, about two miles from witness’s own homestead. She was in the habit of coming over to witness’s house occasionally. Witness discharged her because a man would better do the work she did – for no other reason. Did not observe any change in her figure about the time of discharging her. The place where the bag was found was about seventy or eighty yards from the hut in which she lived. The nearest house, except witness’s was about a mile from the spot. The creek had been running this year, and was running now. The bag was not floating- it was sunk in the water, and resting on the bottom of the creek, in about four or five feet of clear water. The stream was sometimes very powerful in the creek, and the bag might have been carried along, notwithstanding there were a few stones in it. It was an old flour-bag, and there were similar bags kept at the farm, but none of them, nor was this, marked. Had no reason to suspect Johanna Doyle was in the family-way when she left witness’s service, or before. A black boy, an aboriginal native, lived at the hut with Johanna Doyle, but on other male lived there.
Catherine Fanning, wife of the last witness, had known Johanna Doyle three or four years, during the last two years and a half of which she had been in witness’s service. Believed she was a married woman, and that her husband had gone back to Ireland three years before. She was in the habit of coming to witness’s house once or twice in the month. She was discharged because it required a man to go after the cattle. On one occassion witness said to her she seemed to be in the family way, and her answer was that she would be very sorry. Did not observe any difference in her size when witness discharged her. She occasionally complained of being delicate, but she never said she was in the family-way. After she left, witness was at the hut where Doyle had lived before she took her clothes away. Did not see any signs of blood about the place.
Neither of these two last witnesses gave evidence in a willing manner; and the coroner was obliged to remind the woman that he had the power to commit to gaol any person who withheld evidence, or who gave evidence in an equivocating manner.
John Fanning, a young man, son of William Fanning.- Knew Johanna Doyle, but never heard anything about her having been in the family-way, or that she had the dropsy. Knew nothing about either the birth or death of the deceased child.
Mary Fanning, a young woman, daughter of William Fanning.- Knew Johanna Doyle had been ill for some time, but did not know what was the matter with her. She was able to go about as usual. Knew nothing whatever about the death of the infant found in the bag.
Tommy, an aboriginal native, belonging to the Darling tribe, gave evidence that he had been living in Mr Fanning’s employ for the last four years. Knew Mrs Doyle, and lived at the out-farm in the hut with her. Witness minded the cows and she minded the paddock and cooked the food. She slept in the back room with her two children. Witness slept over the dairy. One day , about a fortnight before she left, she asked him for a drink of water. Went into the room and she was sitting on the bed. She did not complain of pain and witness never heard her groaning with pain at any time. Never saw any signs of a child, and Mrs Doyle was never laid up for a day. She always got the meals regularly. She was vomiting the day witness gave her the drink of water. She was faint. Never saw any signs of blood about the place.
Mr McIntyre, being recalled, stated the child might have been dead for two months, but it was impossible to state precisely. A woman might go about her work after being delivered of a child without its being suspected. Could not state what was the cause of the death of the child.
The jury returned verdict as follows:- “That the body was found dead, in a corn-sack, on the 5th October, in the Emeu Creek; but there was not sufficient evidence to show who was the mother of the child, or how the deceased came by her death.”
William Patrick Fanning signs his name as Fannan and Catherine Fanning leaves her mark.
Some time ago I received an email about a Catherine Doyle Fanning. This is the email: ” have been trying to find out where my great great grandmother came from, she was born Bulla Victoria in 1865, out of wedlock to a Johanna Fanning. My great great grandmothers name was Catherine Doyle Fanning born 1865 Bulla Victoria to Johanna Fanning, according to our family records she was placed for adoption, but she retained the name Fanning. With some of the records she names her father as being a William Fanning and her mother as being Johanna Doyle. There is also mention of other children, but unfortunately there are no christian names only that she has three siblings and one sibling that died. “
As far as I can work out there are two possibilities: Catherine Doyle Fanning may have been the child of Johanna Fanning, Big Bill’s daughter ( she would have been 17, how likely is that?) or she may have been the child of Big Bill himself to Johanna Doyle!! and this opens up the possibility that the child found in Emu Creek may also have been Big Bills. This would explain their reticence as witnesses.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has any information on Johanna Doyle and Catherine Doyle Fanning. I couldn’t find any birth, death or marriage records in Victoria that seemed to apply to Johanna Doyle or Catherine. Unfortunately I have not heard back from the person who sent me the email.